More confusion in the ruling party as Dahal vacillates between Oli and NepalThe Nepal faction, which has backed Dahal so far, is suspicious after reports that the party chair has reached a deal with Oli keeping his allies in the dark.
A “tentative deal” between ruling Nepal Communist Party chairmen KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal to hold the party’s general convention by November/December has now given rise to a new dispute, with the faction led by senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal taking exception to such a backdoor dealing.
A day after Oli and Dahal were said to have reached an understanding, in the presence of President Bidya Devi Bhandari, on the general convention, Dahal on Sunday was scrambling to placate the Nepal faction.
The Nepal faction believes that Dahal once again has betrayed them by suddenly dropping the agenda of Oli’s resignation.
According to leaders, at Saturday’s Secretariat meeting, Dahal did not even raise the issue.
On Sunday, a number of leaders including Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha and around a dozen Standing Committee members had reached Dahal’s residence at Khumaltar and questioned him about his deal on the general convention with Oli.
According to leaders, Dahal said no deal was reached on the general convention and that it was just a proposal.
“But Dahal said there was confusion over understanding the proposal for the convention,” said Shrestha, the party spokesperson.
Until a few weeks ago, the Dahal faction, backed by Nepal and Khanal, was baying for Oli’s blood, demanding that Oli resign both as party chair and prime minister.
With around 30 of the 44 Standing Committee members appearing adamant, Oli was on a shaky ground.
Oli, however, prorogued Parliament suddenly on July 2, signalling a possible party split, which prompted Dahal to restart talks with him. After more than half a dozen meetings with Oli, including one in the presence of Nepal, the leaders last week discussed the idea of convening the Central Committee.
There, however, were differences between the Oli and Dahal factions over the date. As the Dahal faction pressed for a Central Committee meeting by the third week of August, Oli was spooked, a leader familiar with the developments told the Post on condition of anonymity.
Hence on Saturday, Oli dropped the bait of an early general convention, promising that he would back Dahal for party chair, according to the leader.
There were unconfirmed reports of a deal between Oli and Dahal “in writing” in the presence of the President, stoking concerns in the Nepal faction.
Nepal on Saturday even warned of going to the party rank and file to expose the totalitarian tendencies of Oli and Dahal in the party.
Back in the second week of April also, the Dahal-Nepal faction had strongly raised the issue of Oli’s resignation but Dahal later chickened out, leaving the Nepal group in a limbo.
It took a while for Dahal and Nepal to forge the alliance again, but Dahal’s one-on-one talks with Oli over the past few days and rumours that they have reached a secret deal have created confusion, at least two Standing Committee members told the Post.
Fearing that he will lose the Nepal group’s support, Dahal is now trying to convince his supporters that he has not reached any deal with Oli and that his presence at Sheetal Niwas was rather out of an unavoidable compulsion than part of any plan. But leaders, even some former Maoists, are not convinced.
“I can say that an agreement was reached between the two chairs but Dahal backtracked after he was badly exposed,” said Top Bahadur Rayamaji, a Standing Committee member.
With a new turn in the party’s internal dynamics, Dahal is now on the backfoot, say insiders.
Many believe that the general convention at an early date was just a bait dangled by Oli and Dahal was too quick to rise to it.
Multiple leaders the Post spoke with said the general convention in November/December is not possible for various reasons.
Standing Committee member Raghuji Pant said there is no possibility of holding the general convention in November/December. “Nor is this general convention proposal going to resolve the dispute,” Pant told the Post.
According to Bishnu Rijal, a Central Committee member, the biggest challenge to holding the general convention is the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When we are unable to hold the party’s Central Committee due to the pandemic, how can we hold the general convention in November/December?” said Rijal.
Amid confusion, the party on Sunday once again postponed the Standing Committee meeting until Tuesday.
According to two Standing Committee members, Dahal has invited Standing Committee members representing the former Maoist party to Khumaltar on Monday morning to brief on the developments and clarify what happened on Saturday.
Insiders say Dahal’s tendency to do backdoor dealings has now put him in a difficulty.
After he was taken to the task over the reported deal with Oli, Dahal on Sunday tried to convince the Nepal faction, saying that he would never go against their alliance.
“But we are not convinced. We will wait and see,” said Gokarna Bista, a Standing Committee member close to Nepal, who was present at Sunday’s Khumaltar meeting.